Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thinking Like a Writer

I met a gentleman a few weeks ago who gave me a great definition of a writer vs. an author. He said an author is a writer who has been published. Under that definition we are all writers. We all write, whether it is emails, grocery lists, blogs, poetry, novels, memos, etc.

But we don't all consider ourselves writers. I have dabbled in poetry and a few other things for many of my growing-up years. But I have only recently begun to consider myself a writer (see my short essay "i am a writer"). So what made the difference? I did!

When talking to my husband the other day, I realized the difference between most of us and those who consider themselves writers: it is all about how we think...literally. The difference for me occurred when I started thinking about my writing.

I used to write for assignments mostly, but not for myself very often. I started really writing for myself with my first novel, Market Murder. I started trying to figure out how to make things work. But this novel I'm working on right now is definitely for myself (and hopefully others in the future). And that is when the difference really happened.

I can't stop thinking about my novel! When I'm cleaning the house, when I'm driving down the road, when I'm trying to have a conversation with my husband, I'm still thinking about my novel. What should I do here? How do I make this scene work?  This part of my story is coming up...how do I set it up? Everything I see or do seems to somehow relate back to my novel.

For example, I was driving down the road with my husband the other day and saw a billboard for a Renaissance festival. My mind automatically shifted to my story. I had been describing a dress, and the best research I could find were costume websites who claimed to be authentic enough that fair/festival goers purchased their products. I literally had a flashback to my own writing, and it was several minutes before I came back to the conversation with my husband.

So that's what thinking like a writer means. When you can't stop thinking about you're writing, then you realize you really are a writer.